No more stormy wedding days


Even if an incredible amount of time is dedicated to the tedious marriage planning process, a perfect wedding day is never guaranteed.

There are just certain things over which wedding planners don’t have control .

Every bride dreams of a picture perfect wedding day when her daddy walks her down the aisle, but so many different things can go wrong. I’m not talking about a dress malfunction, rather a more contending force of nature that is well beyond human control — the weather.

What happens when the bride and groom are in the middle of exchanging vows in a beach wedding and it starts to storm?

Seems like members of our society have once again outdone themselves by creating a solution for rainy wedding days.

Based from an article released by CNN, rain-free wedding days are now offered by a UK-based travel company. A technique called “cloud seeding,” a scientific method to increase precipitation patterns is made use of during this process. The catch: to ensure a sunny day, it will cost you $150,000.

Although the article could have added additional information about the process of cloud seeding as a whole, it did a great job of catering to a broader audience. For obvious reasons, the target audiences are engaged couples, however, the writer, Jon Jensen, was able to transform the scientifically grounded topic of cloud seeding to appeal to the general public.

Jensen was able to attract a less scholarly crowd by discussing what cloud seeding is all about through means of reducing the use of complicated scientific terms. Also, the inclusion of humor in Jensen’s article, as well as incorporating a scaled pinch of mockery towards the idea of paying a large amount for a sunny day, did make the article engaging. In fact, before he ends his article, he writes a “Do it Yourself” 5 step outline, which is particularly for those who don’t want to spend $150,000 to stop the rain.

Other than that, the only thing Jensen could have included was success stories of married couples who paid the $150,000 fee. The aspect of incorporating more sources would have made his article more credible as a whole.

The article you shouldn’t miss


You can easily tell the difference between a well-written food article from one that is poorly composed. It’s not enough for the photos on the screen to make your mouth water.

“Eat like a local: 10 Chinese dishes you can’t miss in Xi’an.” It’s not hard to agree that seeing an article like on CNN will just make you want to scroll down. Knowing the Chinese, who have a reputation of eating all sorts things, dogs, chicken feet, turtle soup — you name it, the article doesn’t seem too appealing.

Not everyone can write about food. It’s one thing for a photographer to take a photo of an appetizing meal and allow the picture speak for itself, but it’s a completely different undertaking for a writer to transcribe the smell, taste and savory of the dish by making it seem as though it’s right before the reader’s eyes.

As disappointing as the title may sound, the content surely made up for the mundane nature of the headline. Even before the lead comes to the reader’s view, there are 10 pictures that set the tone of the article. There was nothing too exotic that could be outside the range of an American who has only ever come close to Chinese food by means of ordering from the nearest Panda Express.

The lead immediately catches the attention of the readers. The writer, Shen Lu, opens with the statement, “The Terracotta Army may be the most famous landmark in the central Chinese city of Xi’an, but the Shaanxi capital’s array of noodles, breads and dumplings are the tastiest way to be transported back to ancient China.” The tone is engaging, and the message captivating.

As Lu proceeds with her article, she lists one local delicacy at a time, describing what the food is made of, how it will be served and eaten, and she also includes the address of where it is best served at. If there happens to be contact information of the restaurant, she does not fail to list it too.

I’ve tried to save the best for last — the food (and juice) that she has included in her list of 10. Among the few things that are part of the list are Xi’an meat burger, soupy dumpling, cold noodles and pomegranate juice. In order to cater to the American audience, she carefully describes how a certain delicacy is similar to a specific American-made food. She also inserts the Pinyin (system of writing Mandarin Chinese using the Latin alphabet) translation of the dishes.

The article is written with colloquial language to keep the readers engaged. Lu also managed to keep the description written under every dish short, but informative. To cap it all off, how can the article get any worse to know that all the dishes are affordable and easily accessible (in China, of course!).

Inexpensive yacht rentals for ‘all’


The countdown for summer has already commenced and we all know what that entails — spending more money for vacation destinations.

During this time of year travel plans are certainly one of the most discussed topics. It’s timely that The New York Times has just released an article in its travel section that promotes the idea of yacht vacations.

The article suggests that yachts could be affordable as long as one knows where to look, indicating that week-long charters are inexpensive and will only cost $5,000 or less.

There are a couple of yacht rental sites that the article links readers to, all of which could render to be useful to those interested.

Although the article was able to touch upon a relevant topic, it has certain limitations and flaws, starting with the title “Yacht Vacations: Not Just for the Rich.”

The title is misleading, as it infers that yacht vacations could well be afforded by every other person who belongs to lower hierarchical class of society. A price of $5,000 may well be affordable for the upper middle class of society, but this does not necessarily constitute the lower middle class, as well as those below this category.

The article, although informative, could have been more interesting if there was more content added to it. The purpose of the article is to inform the public about low yacht rental prices, placed a significant amount of attention towards boat charters, however, left out ideas on what one can possibly do in a yacht for an entire week.

The article could have been a lot more engaging if the writer included more information about yacht vacations, as the article was supposed to cater to those who have never really had the chance to experience and afford such luxury.

It could have also been more insightful if there were a number of sources who shared their own stories on how their yacht vacation turned out to be. This would have been able to help those who are seriously considering a yacht vacation.

As journalists, we often like to keep our published works straightforward in order to merit the full attention of the reader. It’s extremely hard to measure when an article is underdeveloped or not, but to our benefit it is better to report the entire story that includes additional facts rather than publish one that is half baked.

‘The Milkshake that almost killed Castro’


I have recently got into the habit of becoming more informed of what’s going around worldwide by consistently updating myself with the latest news that CNN and The New York Times have to offer. I have, however, been recently disheartened about the current explosions in Brussels and distanced myself away from the news.

It has come to my attention that individuals, similar to myself, also feel the weight of the information overload about the situation in Brussels. Every few hours, the headline changes from the city’s current death count to the identification of the bombers who staged the phenomenon.

It’s great that the Internet allows its users to stay informed on stories that make the breaking news headlines, but there are also times when there’s a much needed break from all the tragic events occurring in the world.

I never really go past the opinion section of CNN, but I decided to scroll all the way down to find out whether I can read something a bit more uplifting and a little less depressing than what I’ve come across the past few days.

A video called “The Milkshake that Almost Killed Castro” appealed to me, and without any hesitation, I clicked on it. The concept of the short video is great, the title is extremely intriguing, the material is timely (with Obama currently in Cuba), and above Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 9.39.37 PMand beyond everything else the content is factual and informative.

Within a minute and 32 seconds, the video was not only able to keep its viewers attentively watching, but was also able to effectively discuss the CIA’s many attempts of assassinating Castro.

The video opens with a sound bite that introduces the context of the topic. The first thing that’s heard is the voice of a young man as he narrates, “March 1963: The CIA is planning to kill Fidel Castro using his greatest guilty pleasure- a milkshake.”

Everything about the video is contemporary, which does somewhat limit this resource to attract a younger audience. Other than that, as it is found in the very bottom of the web page, it’s also not something that can be found right away.

But, if you just so happen to be feeling drained with the excessive amount of tragic news you are hearing, it’s really worth your time to check this video.

Obscure ‘carrot man’ rises to fame


There are all sorts of things that social media are capable of, and one of its major strengths is its ability to turn an average middle class individual to an Internet sensation overnight.

On rare occasions, some people who do try to stray from the spotlight get dragged into it without their consent. Nearly a month ago, photos of a charming young farmer were put up online, which spread quickly throughout Filipino news media and gained a considerable amount of attention in the public sphere.

Jeyrick Sigmaton did not expect that his good looks would take him anywhere outside the indigenous community in which he grew up. Born and raised in the northern region of the Philippines, Mountain Province, Sigmaton decided not to attend high school so he could work full-time tScreen Shot 2016-03-17 at 5.12.12 PMo help his parents support his six other siblings.

All thanks to Edwina Bandong, Sigmaton’s photos went viral on social media.

Bandong happened to be around the Mountain Province area when she managed to take a photo of a farmer who was carrying a heavy load of carrots onto a delivery truck, hence the nickname “carrot man.”

The news media caught on to the rising hype of carrot man that was going on in the Internet and decided to seek out Sigmaton.

One of the country’s most prominent broadcast journalists, Jessica Soho, made the trip to Mountain Province to get to know more about Sigmaton.

Soho hosts her own news magazine television show that airs every Sunday evening, a show that many Filipino families watch on a regular basis. The fact that Sigmaton was featured on her show made the farmer an even bigger “celebrity,” as it catered to a larger nationwide audience.

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“I’m proud that my picture was sought-after. Because of this, a lot of people gained interest in the people who reside in Mountain Province as well as in us, Igorots.” -Jeyrick Sigmaton, “Carrot Man.”

The news media are the source of opening new topics of discussion within a particular issue. In most cases, they do initiate debates and disagreements and they rarely function to unite everyone into one mainstream idea.

In the case of carrot man, Soho was not only able to tell a story behind the man in the photographs, but was also able to inform the public about the culture, struggle and livelihood of Igorots (indigenous tribe members.)

Soho was able to incorporate the timeliness of Sigmaton’s fame and link it to the issues that surround native tribes that still exist around the country. She exemplified great journalism techniques that can be deemed praiseworthy.

Soccer star donates brain for research


Articles concerning topics on both sports and science tend to either be doping focused or either too scientifically written, exclusively catering to a selected few. Rarely are there sport science stories that appeal to a larger audience, and so when there happens to be one that catches public attention it’s always worth taking a look why articles like these draw so much attention.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 2.48.24 PMBrandi Chastain, former U.S. national soccer team member, just announced that she will be donating her brain to Boston University for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) research.

Chastain rose to fame after scoring the shootout goal in the 1999 World Cup, ousting China in the final match.

Currently, in her late 40s, Chastain is assuming the role of a mother as well as that of a soccer coach in her community.

After the announcement, Chastain has become the second national soccer team member to donate her brain for research. Soccer players, similar to other athletes like boxers and football players are prone to concussions and minor impacts in mild traumatic brain injuries that result to CTE. With Chastain’s contribution to CTE research, it will be of significant value for the entire soccer community.

It was The New York Times that released this story on Chastain and I commend The Times for being able to present the article to its audience in such an empowering manner.

The article does not only shed light on how Chastain willingly wanted to contribute to her sport in her own little way, but also puts into context different issues relating to CTE risk, all by doing so in an educational way.

The article also included a question and answer response, which did enhance and strengthen the article content all the more.

The issue of woman empowerment was taken onto another step when it was linked onto how recent developments are made to benefit female sports icons like Chastain herself.

Has Trump sealed the deal?


When Donald Trump filed his statement of candidacy a few months ago, no one would have expected him to go very far, much less sustain a significant lead among Republican candidates.

Now that it’s dawning upon the country that Trump actually has a shot at becoming the next president, CNN is already commenting what’s next if Trump takes over the White House.

Trump, who won the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday night, is unsurprisingly under the spotlight for his recent success. When the results showed how his percentages compare to that of the other candidates, the businessman turned presidential candidate has distinctly marked New Hampshire, South Carolina and now Nevada, to be “Trump states.”

From one state to the next, Trump is consistently pulling further away from his fellow Republican candidates and it’s looking more likely that there is a big possibility for Trump to heighten his momentum come Super Tuesday.

Alongside Trump’s efforts to power through the Republican polls, it’s also interesting to read about what the news has to say about this Trump frenzy phenomenon going on.

CNN has just released a number of news stories entitled What would Trump’s be first day in office look like and Trump’s Day 1-to-do-list. With the release of these web stories, it appears as though what’s being presented to the audience is an indirect opinionated piece that can influence public opinion.

Although CNN has not shown any support for Trump in any regard, it’s almost doing the same as straightforwardly subjecting the public to count Rubio and Cruz out.

Saying goodbye to Justice Scalia


With the presidential campaign underway, the news media have placed a lot of focus on updating their audiences on the latest polls and debates. It’s no longer a shock to see Donald Trump’s face streamed across headline pages of different news websites. One story, however, has been leading topic for the past few days, catching the attention of the public and overshadowing news about the presidential candidates.

The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has recently been the talk of the nation. Scalia, the longest serving justice on the court, was found dead in a resort in West Texas.

It has been confirmed that the 79-year-old Italian-American, died from a heart attack. Scalia’s family and colleagues grieve for his death, but it’s also worth taking a closer look with regards to how the news media presented his passing.

Hours after the public was informed of Scalia’s death, articles on the vacancy of the late  justice’s position were published online. It makes perfect sense to fill an empty seat, but was it so urgent to have the need to look for a replacement almost as soon as the spot was empty?

I find it insensitive on the news media’s part to have rushed the publication of finding Scalia’s new successor. The least the news media could have done was give Scalia’s family more time to grieve for its loss.

Live: Reporter sexually assaulted


We’ve been ingrained with the idea that journalists hold a significant amount of power in society. Like it or not, it’s just how it is. Whatever is released and exposed to the public depends on whether a news story is newsworthy and relevant, in other words, “journalist-approved.”

What if the role of the viewer and that of the news media’s were to overlap? I’d say that would be pretty catastrophic. Imagine viewers dictating and interrupting news segments that are going on live. Surely, that would be disastrous.

Recently, Esmeralda Labye, a Belgian reporter from Radio Télévision Belge de la Communauté Française (RTFB), was sexually assaulted during her live broadcast. Labye was reporting on the Cologne carnival in Germany when a man kissed her on the neck and made obscene gestures while she was reporting live.

The story has gained considerable attention with several renowned news websites such as CNN, BBC and The Guardian reporting on the sex attack. A similar pattern persists across all these reports where Labye has been delineated as competent in the manner of how she handled the situation.

Irrefutably, Labye can be commended for the professionalism she showed. It would be difficult to be in a situation similar to what she was in, where she managed to remain calm and have her emotions in line. Her actions exhibit her credibility as a reporter. Above all, professional was seen through how Labye prioritized news delivery before her personal concerns for the time being.

Likewise, the decision of RTFB not to publish the video online is an issue of ethics. Ethical journalism has always been a sensitive topic when it comes to news reporting and the fact that the station decided not to release it online only shows accountability towards its staff.

News stories similar to this come and go but, from what I see, this story will serve as a landmark for future stories to come. RTFB handled the situation in their own hands making sure their reporter would not be more humiliated than she already was. In fact, the station’s decision not to publish the video online was solely for the best interest of Labye.

Philippine media’s take on Ms. Universe


There has been a 42-year drought since the Philippines claimed the Ms. Universe crown and now that a Filipina holds the title, the Philippine news media cannot stop talking about her.

It has been more than a month since Steve Harvey, the 2015 Ms. Universe host, mistakenly announced that Ms. Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, instead of Ms. Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, was the winner of the 2015 Ms. Universe Pageant.

Ever since the crown was removed (literally) from Gutierrez’s head and placed on top of Wurtzbach’s, Philippine news media have portrayed Gutierrez as a bitter first runner-up while Wurtzbach’s grace and humility have been put under the spotlight.

The phrase “love your own” certainly holds true in the case of Philippine media coverage of the pageant and of Wurtzbach. By all means, it is only typical that Filipinos show pride and favor towards their chosen representative in an international event. It does however become questionable when journalists come into the picture and compromise professionalism with nationalism.

Content that is viewed and published on a national scale must be kept transparent regardless the news that is being reported on. The pageant is no exception.

Negligently, Philippine media covered the turn of events in such a manner that merely highlighted a one-sided Filipino perspective. Whenever Ms. Colombia is mentioned on Philippine news websites, there has been a prevalent pattern suggesting that video clips and quotes have not been acquired as primary sources.

Although it may be unlikely and too costly to send reporters to Colombia, Philippine media could have made an effort to contact Gutierrez through phone call, at the very least.

Perhaps the emergence of the newly strained relationship between Philippine and Colombian fans has also played a role for the Philippine media to not reach out any further. After all, who would want to heighten the existing awkwardness going on between the two countries?